Watch the Day Three Deliberations here:
2016 gave us remasters of old games, computers that were made to look old, industry trends that we wish were things of the past, and an old name that suddenly feels fresher than ever.
In a year dominated by "remasters" that consisted of minor graphical touch-ups to games that it feels like we just got through playing, Day of the Tentacle Remastered stands out as a loving and actually necessary restoration of a revered old classic. This is a game from an era when 256-color VGA graphics and digital speech were only starting to become the norm, so needless to say, the original production values don't hold up particularly well these days. Also, people love Day of the Tentacle. Those two factors make this a remaster whose time has come, and it's all the better because Double Fine dove into musty, decades-old archives of source material like original voice recordings and concept art to recreate the elements of the game at a level of quality that should stand the test of time. They even documented that process on YouTube, something we'd love to see other developers do more of.
Throw in requisite bonus features like developer commentary, the ability to seamlessly switch between old and new graphics, and a revamped interface that works great on a controller and lets you expand the playable area to full screen, and this is a textbook case of a remaster done right. As the video game business continues to see demand for updates to old favorites, we could do with fewer "HD remasters" of games that were already HD in the first place, and more labors of love like this restoration of one of LucasArts' most popular old adventure games.
Best Fake Computer
Buying a game today is a lot different than it was a decade ago. With the assumption that players will have access to the internet we've seen welcomed patches that include bug fixes, UI tweaks, some rebalancing here and there. "Wait for the patch" has become a fairly common refrain for the first week of release. This year, though, it has felt like more games have taken release to mean initial release, with the final release forthcoming, if ever.
No Man's Sky released and then months later had a major content patch that added a whole host of new and improved features. Final Fantasy XV is promising some narrative updates with cutscenes to fill some story gaps. While live development used to be the realm of MMOs and online-only games, it is settling in throughout the industry. It's not necessarily a bad thing on its own, as we all should have a better game in the end. It only becomes a problem when you put the onus on the consumer to shoulder the burden of receiving those updates.
Data caps, poor internet speeds, and limited connectivity are all realities for some players. There's a difference between having internet access and being able to easily get that 30GB patch onto your system. Buying and inserting a disc only to have to download the entire game in order to play it is a hassle at the very least and impossible in some cases. It feels like we're a bit caught in a half-step between physical media and digital, without a proper offline solution for the former. The assumption that all players have access to or are able to pay for the infrastructure to get a proper version of the game they already paid for is unfair. There is a good use case for patches, and being able to make updates to a game, but don't abuse that system to ship something you know will be fixed or better in a few months.
Runners-up: The Return of Bad PC Ports, Not Providing Early Review Copies
Before release, numerous elements of the new Doom were reason for concern. It was coming from the ashes of a scrapped Call of Duty clone. Its multiplayer beta failed to impress. Review copies weren't sent out early to press outlets. Any one of these things could have been seen as red flags, and the combination of them didn't bode well for Doom's resurrection. No one could have expected what we wound up getting, which is one of the best first-person shooter campaigns of all time. It managed to retain the mood of classic Doom while adding a surprisingly self-aware sense of humor and an excellent glory kill system. Multiplayer didn't take the world by storm by any means, but we were all too distracted by the shockingly good campaign to care.